The Ladies Gaelic Football Association’s 2019 Gaelic4Teens programme has proven hugely successful in 16 clubs representing ten counties.
The programme drew to a close with a spectacular Festival day at the GAA’s National Games Development Centre in Abbotstown on Monday, May 6.
Participating clubs visited the impressive venue for a series of 7-a-side games, while they also picked up valuable tips and coaching expertise from LGFA Gaelic4Teens ambassadors Cliodhna O’Connor, Dublin’s 2010 TG4 All-Ireland senior championship winning goalkeeper, Mayo’s Fiona McHale, Tipperary native Sinéad Delahunty, Wicklow’s Jackie Kinch and Monaghan’s Sharon Courtney.
The National Development Centre was a hub of activity for the day, with the emphasis on small-sided games, Athletic Development, Lifestyle balance and Skill Development.
Following a hugely-successful pilot in 2017, Gaelic4Teens has been rolled out across all four provinces for the last two years, and the programme has increased significantly in size and stature.
The programme is helping clubs to retain their current playing bases while also recruiting players in the 13-17 age bracket, which has been identified as a group with a high drop-out rate in many sports.
The Gaelic4Teens festival day marked the culmination of eight weeks of activity in the 2019 Gaelic4Teens programme.
The clubs involved have been educated on how best to deal with teenage players and the ever-increasing pressure of lifestyle planning, with Gaelic4Teens adopting an educational approach on how to best approach the problem.
Clubs and coaches were educated on the needs and interests of teenage girls in sport, as coaches and co-ordinators from the 16 clubs attended two training days that were specifically designed to help them engage with teenage female players.
The training enabled coaches and clubs to reflect on their coaching behaviour and how they engage with players aged 13-17 years, with the ultimate aim of retaining those players within their clubs.
Clubs received six training sessions that were specifically tailored to this age group.
These differed from the sessions generally employed in other age grades, and the specialised sessions were then rolled out by the clubs.
The final day of the programme aimed to knit together all of the aspects of the previous weeks as players absorbed information from the LGFA’s Gaelic4Teens ambassadors.
Sharon Courtney and Sinead Delahunty presented to the players on how to balance lifestyle demands, while also delivering top tips on nutrition, hydration, sleep and recovery, with the Skills and Athletic Development workshops spearheaded by Cliodhna O’Connor, Fiona McHale and Jackie Kinch.
All players also participated in a series of non-competitive, small sided games on high-quality pitches in Abbotstown.
After completing the programme, the participating clubs will be armed with all the knowledge and skills necessary to retain players in their late teens, and their progress will be consistently monitored throughout the next year.
Ladies Gaelic Football Association CEO Helen O’Rourke commented: “We are pleased to have completed our third year of the successful Gaelic4Teens programme.
“Once again, this scheme continues to grow and evolve, and huge credit is due to the 16 clubs who participated in the 2019 programme.
“We are acutely aware of the challenges faced by teenagers in terms of balancing various commitments and this programme aims to equip them with some of the many skills required to do that.
“I’d also like to thank our leading inter-county stars who assisted greatly through the eight weeks, and again in Abbotstown on Monday, while our development team has worked extremely hard to deliver an excellent programme.
“I look forward to Gaelic4Teens in 2020 and we will liaise closely with the clubs who have participated in 2017, 2018 and 2019, to monitor their progress.”
The LGFA’s National Development Manager, Lyn Savage, said: “There has been an emphasis on player retention and reducing dropout rates of teenage girls involved in all sport and we aim to have a proactive approach in addressing this issue.
“Following consultation with teenage players, it was identified that the programme needed to focus on coach education and we have endeavoured to provide the clubs with the knowledge and tools required to engage with teenage players.
“Our Gaelic4Teens ambassadors have been central to the success of this programme and coaches and players alike learn from the expertise and experience of these role models.
“We look forward to continuing our work with these clubs in the coming year and monitoring their progress as we look to roll out this programme to more clubs in 2020.”
Gaelic4Teens Programme Participants
1. Drumbaragh, Meath
2. Edenderry, Offaly
3. Castlegregory, Kerry
4. Robert Emmets, Dublin
5. West Clare Gaels, Clare
6. Knockbride, Cavan
7. St. Patricks, Tipperary
8. Listowel Emmets, Kerry
9. Trim, Meath
10. Kilrossanty/Brickeys, Waterford
11. Killeshin, Laois
12. Cooraclare, Clare
13. Slieve Felim, Tipperary
14. Emyvale, Monaghan
15. Ballyhaise, Cavan
16. Trinity Gaels, Dublin
For further information, contact the LGFA’s National Development Manager William Harmon: email@example.com or 01-8363156.